Traditional Food You Must Try When Visiting Spain

13 Traditional Food You Must Try When Visiting Spain (Plus How to Order)

When you set foot in Spain, prepare yourself for a culinary rollercoaster. And I’m not talking about your average, everyday meal experience.  Spanish cuisine will grab your taste buds by the collar and give them a good shake.

Here’s a rundown of the traditional Spanish dishes that you simply can’t skip. I’ll also explain how to order these dishes, so don’t you worry! Let’s start.

1. Paella Valenciana

Paella Valenciana - One of the most famous Spanish dish

Paella Valenciana is probably the most famous Spanish dish there is. The rice is as yellow as the sun, soaked through with those little red saffron threads.  And when it’s done right, the bottom of the pan gets this awesome crispy crust.

That’s what really makes paella special – when the rice on the bottom gets all browned up. Between the yellow rice, different kinds of meat and seafood, and that crispy crust, it’ll be a shame to visit Spain and not try this delicious dish.

Why You Must Try It

  • It’s a complete meal in one pan. No need for side dishes.
  • The crispy socarrat at the bottom is worth fighting over.

How to Order

“Me pones una paella valenciana, por favor?” (Can I have a Valencian paella, please?)

2. Patatas Bravas

Patatas Bravas - Spanish Tapas

This is the wild child of the Spanish tapas family. Just cubes of potato that have taken a dive into a hot pan, then bravely dressed in a spicy sauce. Simple? Yes. Boring? Never. Make sure to try this one when visiting.

Why You Must Try It

  • Perfect for fueling up before a night of flamenco dancing.
  • Very spicy, so if you love this type of foods, go for it.

How to Order

“Quisiera unas patatas bravas.” (I would like some patatas bravas.)

3. Gazpacho

Gazpacho - Cold Spanish Soup

Maybe you haven’t heard about this, but some people in Spain actually drink their salads instead of eating them with a fork. At least, I initially thought that was the case. But then I learned about this soup they have called “gazpacho.”

It’s made mostly from tomatoes with peppers, garlic, bread and olive oil all blended up. Kinda like a salad, right? All that aside, it’s refreshing on a hot day and a great meal to have when going on a beach on a warm summer day.

Why You Must Try It

  • It’s salad but drinkable. Hydration and nutrition in one go.
  • Ideal for those sweltering Spanish summers when chewing just feels like too much work.

How to Order

“¿Podría traerme un gazpacho?” (Could you bring me a gazpacho?)

4. Pimientos de Padrón

Pimientos de Padrón - Padron Pepper

Small green peppers that are a bit like playing Russian roulette. Most are mild but bite into the wrong one, and it’s game over for your taste buds. Of course, if you like that hard, peppery taste, you’ll love it.

Why You Must Try It

  • A bit of suspense with your meal.
  • Great for testing your spice tolerance—and your luck.

How to Order

“Voy a probar los pimientos de padrón.” (I am going to try the Padrón peppers.)

5. Fideuà

Fideuà - Spanish Dish

Think of Fideuà as Paella’s less famous sibling. Instead of rice, it has thin noodles and comes packed with seafood. Popular in Catalonia and Valencia, this dish is for those who dare to stray from the beaten path.

Why You Must Try It

  • It’s a hidden gem. Not everyone knows about it, but they should.
  • Seafood and noodles? A match made in culinary heaven.

How to Order

“Nos gustaría una fideuà para compartir, gracias.” (We would like a fideuà to share, thank you.)

6. Jamón

Jamón Iberico

This isn’t just any ham but a national treasure. Whether it’s the more robust Jamón Serrano (Check Los Serrano TV show to get the reference) or the decadent Jamón Iberico, each slice is a piece of art.

Why You Must Try It

  • It’s the perfect pairing with a glass of rioja.
  • Learn how Spaniards elevate the simple act of curing meat into an art form. It really is a huge cultural thing there.

How to Order

“Quiero una ración de jamón, por favor.” (I want a serving of ham, please.)

7. Tortilla Española

The Authentic Tortilla Española

It’s just eggs and potatoes tossed together in a pan, sometimes jazzed up with chorizo or onions. But there’s something about this Spanish omelet that’s comforting and entirely satisfying. Try it, and you will understand what I’m talking about.

Why You Must Try It

  • It proves that simplicity is often the key to perfection.
  • Works for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or anytime in between.

How to Order

“Una tortilla española, por favor. ¿La tienen con cebolla?” (A Spanish omelet, please. Do you have it with onions?)

8. Churros

Churros - Traditional Spanish Dish

Imagine the best doughnut you’ve ever had, make it crispier and strip it into long, dunkable sticks. That’s churros for you, often enjoyed with a thick, hot chocolate, but you can mix it up and try them with some other ingredients.

Why You Must Try It

  • Dessert that you can dunk? Must-try.
  • They make getting up in the morning worthwhile, as Churros are exceptional breakfast food.

How to Order

“Me pones unos churros con chocolate?” (Can I have some churros with chocolate?)

9. Croquetas

Spanish dish Coquettes

These little fried rolls hide a creamy heart of bechamel sauce mixed with ham, chicken, or fish. Biting into one of these is an experience like no other.

Why You Must Try It

  • Every bite is a blend of creamy and crunchy textures.
  • They’re dangerously addictive. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

How to Order

“¿Me puedes traer unas croquetas, por favor?” (Can you bring me some croquettes, please?)

10. Albondigas

Albondigas - Spanish Dish

Spain’s answer to the meatball. Typically drenched in tomato sauce, these can also come with an almond sauce twist, which I found really tasty and different.

Why You Must Try It

  • Comfort food Spanish-style. Like a hug in food form.
  • They show that even the humble meatball can be special.

How to Order

“Vamos a tomar unas albondigas, gracias.” (We will have some meatballs, thank you.)

11. Migas

Migas - Spanish Dish

From humble breadcrumbs to a hearty dish, Migas is proof of Spanish resourcefulness, often jazzed up with chorizo or bacon.

Why You Must Try It

  • It’s breakfast for champions. Or lunch. Or dinner.
  • A lesson in how simple ingredients can be turned into something spectacular.

How to Order

“¿Tienen migas hoy?” (Do you have migas today?)

12. Bacalao al Pil-Pil

Bacalao al Pil-Pil is a classic from the Basque country that will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about salted cod.  The olive oil and garlic dance together to create a sauce that’s somehow both silky and fiery.

Why You Must Try It

  • It’s a flavor bomb.
  • Shows you why, sometimes, the simplest ingredients make the best dishes.

How to Order

“Quisiera el bacalao al pil-pil.” (I would like the bacalao al pil-pil.)

13. Leche Frita

Leche Frita Dessert

Ending on a sweet note, Leche Frita is a dessert that could only come from the minds of people who spend their days basking under the Mediterranean sun. Fried milk. It might sound as nothing special, but trust me, you should try it.

Why You Must Try It

  • It’s milk. Fried. Innovation at its finest.
  • The perfect way to get confused and delighted at the same time with the flavor.

How to Order

“Para terminar, nos pones leche frita, por favor.” (To finish, can we have fried milk, please?)


I hope that this list of Spanish eats gave you an idea of all the tasty treats that’ll blow your mind over there. Cooking from that country ain’t all flamenco and castanets – those people are hearty and know how to fill you up. I mean it too – leave that diet at home cause once you get started sampling chorizo, paella, and churros, you ain’t stopping till it’s all gone!

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